A revolutionary pilot project focused on inclusivity and mobility will change the way our community travels across some popular areas of the Sunshine Coast.
Using modern mapping-technology, wheelchairs have been turned into mapping tools with specially trained local “pilots” and devices installed to track routes from Maroochydore to Mooloolaba.
Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson said he was pleased council partnered with Briometrix and Spinal Life Australia to undertake the project – both leading providers of technology solutions for people with disabilities.
“Equity and inclusion are key principles we value at council and in our community, which is why this pilot project is essential in identifying accessible routes suitable for everyone,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“People with limited mobility, whether permanent or temporary, often find it a challenge to move around the Coast due to a lack of maps and wayfinding information about accessible routes. That’s about to change.
“This pilot program combines the lived experience of Bevan Kearsley, Dane Cross, Lachy Chapman and Kay MacLean with Briometrix’s innovative technology which collects information about our footpath conditions, access to public transport and parking, amenities, boardwalks, beach accesses and more.
“Once the data goes live on our website, each and every one of us can find our best path, given our needs and ability.”
This innovative pilot project moves away from dated paper-based accessibility maps and when live on council’s website will provide instant, interactive, sustainable and high-tech navigational maps for everyone in our community.
Mobility chief pilot Bevan Kearsley said he was proud to be part of the pilot program to make a difference on the Sunshine Coast.
“While able-bodied people can simply decide where they want to go, people living with limited mobility face daily challenges in finding viable routes to go places where they’ve not previously been.
“Many spend hours in planning their route to ensure their way will not be blocked or inaccessible, because most have previously experienced having to abandon their journey to return home.
“Since 2019 Briometrix has been using wheelchair pilots because it’s the most sensitive mode of transport when it comes to navigating footpaths and allows us to measure the easier routes to take.
“For the course of this program, Kay is using an electric wheelchair measuring the efforts of the streets like the inclines and slopes.
“Dane and I are using the iPads and video cameras to map and mark the structures, curb ramps, crossings and trip hazards.”
Briometrix CEO Natalie Verdon said the organisation aimed to make life easier for people of all abilities, from mums and dads with toddlers in tow to the elderly and people using mobility aids.
“We are about giving people the confidence to get out and about,” Ms Verdon said.
“Even though the Sunshine Coast’s venues are designed for accessibility, people living with limited mobility are not well represented in the tens of thousands each year who visit Maroochydore and Mooloolaba.
“Many without a car have become “non-users” of public transport because of a previous poor experience causing loss of confidence.
“Others are simply unaware that it can be quite easy and enjoyable to visit the Sunshine Coast on a day trip from Brisbane, or spend more time here on holidays.
“Our data provides insights that are not otherwise visible to council’s planning professionals, but most importantly, our online maps ensure that no matter what age, ability or mobility, everyone has the opportunity to enjoy all that the beautiful Sunshine Coast has to offer.”
Sunshine Coast Council will join other local governments and transport authorities across Australia including Brisbane, Townsville, Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads, Wollongong, Sydney, Melbourne and Public Transport Victoria in deploying Briometrix Mobility Maps.
The data is being collated to create the mobility maps which are expected to go live late April. Council will keep the community informed of the progress.
For more information about the pilot program please visit Briometrix website.